The International Congress of Métis: Race and Pan-Africanism in Late Colonial French Africa
Rachel Jean-Baptiste (University of California Davis)
Paper short abstract:
To fully comprehend the tumultuous years that saw francophone Africa changing in political status from territories in the French Union to independent nation-states in 1960, it is key to analyze what scholarship has overlooked: persistent yet changing conceptions of African multiracial identities.
Paper long abstract:
To fully comprehend the tumultuous years that saw francophone Africa changing in political status from territories in the French Union to independent nation-states in 1960, this paper contends that it is important to analyze what history scholarship has overlooked: persistent yet changing conceptions of African multiracial identities and of "métis" as a distinct racial, legal, social and cultural form of personhood. Racial thought within African societies in these years of profound historical change went beyond ideas about "blackness," but articulations that there were three sets of racial groups in the configuration of African futures: black, white, and métis. In these years, persons claiming métis personhood within AOF and AEF based on genealogical descent from a "white" parent who had French metropolitan nationality reached out to each other beyond their individual colonies and regions. They articulated a pan-African and international form of collective racial identity from which to claim certain human rights for those who were "métis" based on this particular line of genealogical descent. These ideas contested those of political actors and intellectuals who forwarded the idea of "nègritude" as a basis of pan-African anticolonial and antiracist mobilization. These ideas and persons coalesced in two International Congress of Métis, one held in Brazzaville in 1957 and the other in Neu-Asel Germany in 1959.
Pan-Africanism between Unity and Divergence (1950-60s)